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Ihsanoglu calls for an international warning system against instances of religious intolerance

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on February 4, 2013

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), called for an effective international mechanism that could act as an early warning system against instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds. He proposed an international Observatory, perhaps at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with a broad mandate to monitor and document all instances of discrimination and intolerance on religious grounds.

The Secretary General was speaking at the high-level international meeting on 22 January 2013, in London, UK, upon the invitation of Baroness Saiyda Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to develop a common understanding on the way forward on the issue of intolerance on religious grounds.

The Secretary General pointed out that the OIC has an Observatory monitoring Islamophobia and the OSCE has a mechanism to monitor hate crimes, but what is needed is an international observatory with global coverage that would monitor intolerance and discrimination against all religions and their respective followers. He said that this would help develop an empirical basis to understand the extent of the problem, which in turn would figure into evolving an effective and concerted international response.

Ihsanoglu also called for building on the consensus that went into the UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating intolerance on religious grounds and the Istanbul Process for implementing the resolution. He also pointed out that the recent meeting of eminent lawyers and human rights practitioners in Istanbul agreed that the provisions of existing legal instruments, including articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), suffice in covering OIC’s concerns, and that according equal weight to the concerns on both sides could form a good point of departure for developing a common understanding.

The London meeting comes after the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly last month, which adopted the resolution on combating religious intolerance for the second year in a row, and before the 22nd session of the HRC in February. The London meeting is the third in a series of meetings after Istanbul, the second was held in Washington DC. in December 2011. The Secretary General announced that the OIC will host the fourth meeting during the first half of this year.


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OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on February 4, 2013

OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election: Peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority for US-OIC collaboration 

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, sent a letter to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the occasion of his re-election. In it, Ihsanoglu recalls the great strides of US-OIC collaboration on a range of issues during the past four years of Obama’s administration including health, humanitarian aid and women’s empowerment in the Muslim world and that he looks forward to furthering the cooperation in key areas of mutual interest and concern in the upcoming four years. He underlined that peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority areas for the OIC.

The letter was handed to President Obama’s Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussein, during the visit of Hussein to OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah today, 23 January 2013. The Secretary General stated in his letter to President Obama that his reelection is testimony to the trust placed in his dynamic leadership by the American people and could be viewed as a vote of confidence in his policies signifying ‘change’ with particular reference to the policy of engagement with the Muslim world. He pointed out that OIC, being essentially a political organization operating along the principles of moderation and modernization, aims at sustaining a policy of engagement and not confrontation.

Ihsanoglu stressed that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC and the international community, which requires firm commitment by the US, and that the status quo of political stalemate and continuation of Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are neither acceptable nor viable. Ihsanoglu stated that upgrading the status of Palestine to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last November is a golden opportunity that should not be lost and urged Obama to accelerate the realization of peace and stability.

Ihsanoglu referred to Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, which he attended, calling it visionary and a positive statement with far reaching implications that raised expectations for a common future anchored in mutual respect and understanding. In this context, Ihsanoglu mentioned that OIC will continue to combat extremism, terrorism, intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds. The consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, which codified the eight points identified in his address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council, has been widely acknowledged as a positive development and a triumph of multilateralism, Ihsanoglu added. It must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US cooperation, he said, pointing out to the Istanbul Process that he initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build on the consensus achieved.

The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in his letter. While he acknowledged Obama’s efforts to bring the issue of the Rohingya Muslim community to the attention of the national authorities during his recent visit to the country, he urged Obama to support protect the human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority and to restore their citizenship.

OIC Newsletter Issue Number 4

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OIC Secretary General denounces military coup in Guinea-Bissau

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on April 16, 2012

Date: 14/04/2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, firmly denounced the coup d’état conducted on Saturday 13 April 2012 by army rebels in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, an OIC Member State.

The Secretary General condemned the coup as an outrageous and inadmissible act which will only thwart the stabilization efforts and democratic process unraveling in the country over the last few months. He noted with profound regret that this unconstitutional coup is launched a few weeks prior to the run-off presidential election.

Prof. Ihsanoglu called on the military in Guinea-Bissau to exercise responsible restraint, refrain from violence, and release all detained officials as a prelude to restore the constitutional order, peace and stability in the country.

Source: OIC

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Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on April 2, 2012

Ratification of the UN Treaty Bodies by OIC Member States.

Please Click Here for Donwload RATIFIKASI KOVENAN NEGARA OKI


Update: December list 2011



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UN HRC Resolution: Combating intolerance, incitement to violence and violence against based on religion/belief

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 22, 2012

Human Rights Council

Nineteenth session (Agenda item 9)

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related form of intolerance, follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

19/…      Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief

The Human Rights Council,

       Reaffirming the commitment made by all States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote and encourage universal respect for and observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction as to, inter alia, religion or belief,

       Reaffirming also Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 of 24 March 2011 and General Assembly resolution 66/167 of 19 December 2011,

       Welcoming the panel discussion on strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs, held during the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council pursuant to paragraph 9 of resolution 16/18,

       Reaffirming the obligation of States to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and to implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law,

       Reaffirming also that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, inter alia, that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, which shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching,

       Reaffirming further the positive role that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the full respect for the freedom to seek, receive and impart information can play in strengthening democracy and combating religious intolerance,

       Deeply concerned about incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against persons based on their religion or belief in all regions of the world,

       Deploring any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief,

       Strongly deploring all acts of violence against persons on the basis of their religion or belief, as well as any such acts directed against their homes, businesses, properties, schools, cultural centres or places of worship,

       Concerned about actions that wilfully exploit tensions or target individuals on the basis of their religion or belief,

       Noting with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence in many parts of the world, including cases motivated by discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities, in addition to the negative projection of the followers of religions and the enforcement of measures that specifically discriminate against persons on the basis of religion or belief,

       Recognizing the valuable contribution of people of all religions or beliefs to humanity and the contribution that dialogue among religious groups can make towards an improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind,

       Recognizing also that working together to enhance implementation of existing legal regimes that protect individuals against discrimination and hate crimes, increase interfaith and intercultural efforts, and to expand human rights education are important first steps in combating incidents of intolerance, discrimination and violence against individuals on the basis of religion or belief,

       1.             Expresses deep concern at the continued serious instances of derogatory stereotyping, negative profiling and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief, as well as programmes and agendas pursued by extremist organizations and groups aimed at creating and perpetuating negative stereotypes about religious groups, in particular when condoned by Governments;

       2.             Expresses its concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents;

       3.             Condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means;

       4.             Recognizes that the open public debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue, at the local, national and international levels can be among the best protections against religious intolerance and can play a positive role in strengthening democracy and combating religious hatred, and convinced that a continuing dialogue on these issues can help overcome existing misperceptions;

       5.             Notes the speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the fifteenth session of the Human Rights Council, and draws on his call on States to take the following actions to foster a domestic environment of religious tolerance, peace and respect, by:

       (a)           Encouraging the creation of collaborative networks to build mutual understanding, promoting dialogue and inspiring constructive action towards shared policy goals and the pursuit of tangible outcomes, such as servicing projects in the fields of education, health, conflict prevention, employment, integration and media education;

       (b)           Creating an appropriate mechanism within Governments to, inter alia, identify and address potential areas of tension between members of different religious communities, and assisting with conflict prevention and mediation;

       (c)           Encouraging training of Government officials in effective outreach strategies;

       (d)           Encouraging the efforts of leaders to discuss within their communities the causes of discrimination, and evolving strategies to counter these causes;

       (e)           Speaking out against intolerance, including advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence;

       (f)            Adopting measures to criminalize incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief;

       (g)           Understanding the need to combat denigration and negative religious stereotyping of persons, as well as incitement to religious hatred, by strategizing and harmonizing actions at the local, national, regional and international levels through, inter alia, education and awareness-building;

       (h)           Recognizing that the open, constructive and respectful debate of ideas, as well as interfaith and intercultural dialogue at the local, national and international levels, can play a positive role in combating religious hatred, incitement and violence;

       6.             Calls upon all States:

       (a)           To take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries in the conduct of their public duties do not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion or belief;

       (b)           To foster religious freedom and pluralism by promoting the ability of members of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;

       (c)           To encourage the representation and meaningful participation of individuals, irrespective of their religion, in all sectors of society;

       (d)           To make a strong effort to counter religious profiling, which is understood to be the invidious use of religion as a criterion in conducting questionings, searches and other law enforcement investigative procedures;

       7.             Encourages States to consider providing updates on efforts made in this regard as part of ongoing reporting to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

       8.             Calls upon States to adopt measures and policies to promote the full respect for and protection of places of worship and religious sites, cemeteries and shrines, and to take measures in cases where they are vulnerable to vandalism or destruction;

       9.             Calls for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue for the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace at all levels, based on respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs.

Distr. by UN HRC Extranet / Original: English/ 16 March 2012

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Statement by H.E. Prof.Dr.EkmeleddinIhsanoglu, Secretary General Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on March 1, 2012

Statement by H.E. Prof.Dr.EkmeleddinIhsanoglu, Secretary General Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the High Level Segment of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

(Geneva – February 28, 2012)
Madam President,
Madam High Commissioner,
Hon’ble Ministers,
Excellencies Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As always, it is a matter of honor and privilege to address this Council. The Council is reinvigorated following the review process. This session, in particular, is of utmost significance being held at a time of unprecedented transformation. Events that symbolized this transformation during the last year or so placed human rights at the centre of the global agenda. Parts of the Muslim World formed exponent of this transformations. Accordingly, OIC has been closely associated with the other international organizations that carried the international community’s effort to evolve ways and means to address different situations that unfolded over the last year. It only reflects the primacy accorded at the OIC to seeking multilateral solutions to issues and situations in contemporary international relations. We believe this Council’s role would continue to figure prominently in forging and implementing international consensus. OIC believes in consensus being of the essence towards legitimizing international Community’s action. This must be done with a sense of history and eye on the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is in a similar vein that I would like to share an accomplishment of historical significance at the OIC. Last year, I informed this Council that OIC was on the verge of creating an independent permanent Human Rights Commission. I can today report with a sense of satisfaction that the Commission has been established. The first formal session was held in Jakarta last week. The Commission elected a distinguished Lady from amongst the 18 Commissioners to serve as its First Chairperson.

Establishment of the Commission – in half the stipulated period – symbolizes the new OIC propelled by the vision of ‘moderation and modernization’. It is based on the collective will of Member States to mainstream the human rights dimension across the programs and activities of the OIC. It is a major focus of international attention as the first cross regional human rights mechanism owing to the nature of OIC’s membership. It is being seen and acknowledged as a paradigm shift. We hope its work would dispel the misperceptions regarding Islam’s incompatibility with human rights. It would represent a confluence of universal rights and freedoms and Islamic values. It would catalyze a coherent and strong OIC system aimed at facilitating the full enjoyment of all human rights in the Member States.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This session of the Council is characterized by a substantive agenda with imminent implications towards global peace, security and stability. Movements, particularly in parts of the Muslim world lately, indicate the absence of appetite for continuing violations of Human Rights on the international scene. The longstanding issues symbolizing such violations will, therefore, have to be addressed on a priority basis.

The situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories constitutes a permanent agenda item. The Palestinian issue has been at the core of OIC’s concerns. It formed the raison d’être behind the inception of the OIC in 1969. The Israeli occupation and policies pose a continuing threat to human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. Key issues including the Palestinian refugees; Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in Occupied East Jerusalem; settlements in the occupied Arab territories; apartheid wall; blockade of Gaza Strip; and the Palestinian prisoners are riddled with violation of the whole range of Human Rights.

Continuous and deliberate aggression by Israeli military forces and a frequency of flagrant violations of basic human rights merit Council’s priority attention. Many reports and testimonies from various United Nations independent mechanisms have highlighted grave breaches of International Humanitarian and Human Rights law. These breaches underpin contentions of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the occupying power. I reiterate the urgent necessity for the Human Rights Council to effectively address the plight and permanent suffering of Palestinian people.

The alarming situation in Syria characterized by human rights violations has caused grave concern to the entire international community. The OIC has been actively involved in exploiting all available options to bring an end to the violence and loss of civilian lives through dialogue and negotiations without any external interference. I personally took the initiative in convening a Ministerial level Meeting of the Member States at the OIC headquarters to help evolve a solution. The OIC has been consistent in supporting the Arab League Plan. The latest resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly is a strong message that the ongoingkilling and violence against the civilian population in Syria is totally unacceptable and must be brought to an end. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our appeal to the Government of Syria to take heed of the concerns and anxiety of the entire international community with all seriousness without any further delay and help avoid a major humanitarian crisis.

Promotion and protection of human rights of the Kashmiri people continues to form part of the OIC’s agenda. We are particularly concerned at the Human Rights situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. We continue to call for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe resumption of engagement between Pakistan and India is a positive development that must be continued and intensified with a view to resolving all outstanding issues.

We are also following situation of Muslim minorities in non-OIC member states such as the Philippines and Thailand in close and positive collaboration with the Governments of these countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Islamophobia is a contemporary manifestation of racism. Combating Islamophobia as well as vilification of all religions and denigration of symbols and personalities sacred to all religions is a matter of priority at the OIC. We regret that events representing constitutionalization and institutionalization of Islamophobia continue to unfold. Most disconcerting is Islamophobia being used as an instrument of electoral politics. This is a dangerous trend that needs to be arrested. It threatens the multicultural fabric of societies. It could seriously undermine international community’s efforts aimed at interfaith harmony that could underwrite peace and security- particularly so in a world faced with the menace of terrorism. There is an urgent need to initiate and sustain ‘preventive cultural diplomacy’.

It is in this context that OIC took the initiative embodied in the resolution 16/18. This session marks the first anniversary of the consensual passage of this resolution. It was based on the eight points that I mentioned during my address to the 15th session of the Council in September 2010. I am glad that these points found resonance with all the negotiating partners and resulted in a process of consensus building. We must now build on the consensus. It is with this in mind that I initiated – with the presence and participation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Baroness Ashton and other Ministers – the Istanbul Process for a consensual implementation of this resolution. The process seems to be going forward with the last meeting held in Washington and the next to be scheduled in the EU region. OIC will also be hosting an event this year to further the Process. We believe it is important to have a structured engagement. We must address the grey areas and the whole package of interrelated issues by accommodating all concerns of all parties. The alternative approach in resolutions 16/18 at HRC and 66/167 at UNGA has put the decade of polarization and politicization behind us. This enables us to address the real issues and chart out a sustainable and result-oriented course of action at the national and the international levels. Recent events characterized by loss of lives in Norway and Afghanistan underscored the importance of concerted and consensual international action. OIC has demonstrated ability to build consensus on the most sensitive of international issues. We look forward to being reciprocated in the same spirit.

Madam President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international community agreed during the World Conference on Human Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, that national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind while considering the issue of human rights. It is in this context that the issue of sexual orientation is approached by the OIC.

We are deeply concerned at the introduction of controversial notions like “sexual orientation and gender identity” at the Council. Focus on special groups has been questioned in terms of the universality of Human Rights. We have been consistent in opposition to the attempts to introduce – at the United Nations – concepts that have no legal foundation in any international human rights instrument. The international community only recognizes the rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights were duly codified in subsequent international legal instruments. We note with concern the attempts to create controversial new notions or standards by misinterpreting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international treaties to include notionsthat were never articulated or agreed to by the UN membership. These attempts undermine the intent of the drafters and signatories to these human rights instruments. The entire international human rights framework is seriously jeopardized by such attempts.

Madam President,

Let me conclude by emphasizing that my presence here today bears testimony to the increasing importance accorded to Human Rights issues at OIC. I am confident that this session will bring about some conclusive decisions with regard topromotion and protection of Human Rights, under your wise stewardship.

I thank you all.

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